Many of the decolonial struggles of liberation of the 1960s and 1970s were accompanied by a prolific cinematic activity that sometimes was gathered in archives. What could the impact of archival material from such a specific historical and political situation on contemporary contexts and situations be? And, as archives are considered to not only store the past, but open up doors to the future, could they even help to develop ideas for decolonial futures?
This paper proposes to explore these questions, analysing the fate of two archives of militant cinema that, however, do not stand alone but can act as examples: the archive of the Palestine Film Unit, organized by the PLO, and an archive from the time of the Guinea-Bissau war of independence, stored at the INCA, the National Institute of Cinema and Audiovisual in Guinea-Bissau. Both archives had almost been forgotten and lost, until, some years ago, teams of filmmakers and artists came to rescue them, Subversive Film (Reem Shilleh, Mohanad Yaqubi) in the case of the Palestinian archive, and the team around Filipa César, Sana Na N’Hada and Flora Gomes for the INCA. They worked on digitising the material, but they also translated and re-mediated the films into contemporary contexts of presentation: they became part of film screenings, were integrated into lectures and performances, became the object of texts, films and exhibitions—all of them dealing with the history of the films while at the same time exploring their utopian potential.